Best travel credit cards in Canada for 2024

Fact Checked: Scott Birke

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Updated: April 01, 2024

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Just how far can your Canadian travel credit card take you? Whether youā€™re a bargain hunter, snowbird, frequent flyer or bonus surfer, weā€™ve handpicked the best credit card for travel points in Canada list to help you fly and stay for less (or for free!).

  • Methodology: How we chose the best credit card for travel points in Canada list

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    Money.ca rates travel credit cards on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the best) and are based on the following criteria: rewards programs, sign-up bonuses, annual percentage rate (APR), annual fee, foreign transaction fee, customer service, security, acceptance, credit score requirements and additional features. For more, read Money.caā€™s complete review methodology.

    Different categories of cards are rated using different weightings and each card is rated according to its primary category. Money.caā€™s business relationships have no effect on ratings.

Best travel credit card in Canada for Aeroplan points

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

1.5 points for every $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery and direct through Air CanadaĀ® purchases (including Air Canada VacationsĀ®)ā€ 

1 point Earn 1 point for every $1 you spend on all other purchasesā€ 

2x Earn points twice with Aeroplan partner brands and on the Aeroplan eStore.ā€ 

50% Earn 50% more Aeroplan points at Starbucks when you link your card to your account.ā€ 

1 NEXUS application fee rebate every 48 monthsā€ 

1st checked bag free for you and up to 8 travel companionsā€ 

$139 Annual Fee Additional cardholder is $75.ā€ 

20.99% Purchase APR APR for purchases 20.99%ā€ 

22.99% Cash Advance APR APR for cash advances 22.99%ā€ 

22.99% Balance Transfer Rate APR for balance transfers 22.99%ā€ 

2.50% Foreign Transaction Fee Foreign transaction fee: 2.50%ā€ 

Excellent Recommended Credit Score

$60,000 Required Annual Personal Income

$100,000 Required Annual Household Income

Welcome Offer Ends Jun 3, 2024

Earn up to $1,200 in valueā€  including up to 50,000 Aeroplan pointsā€ . Conditions Apply. Account must be approved by June 3, 2024.

Learn more
  • Why we chose the TDĀ® AeroplanĀ® Visa Infinite* Card as the best Air Canada credit card

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    Aeroplan is the most popular travel reward program among our readers, and the Aeroplan card that currently brings the most value for its annual fee is the TDĀ® AeroplanĀ® Visa Infinite* Card.

    Key features of this travel reward credit card:

    Earn rates: 1.5 Aeroplan pointsā€  for every $1 spent on eligible everyday purchases such as groceries, gas, anddirect through Air CanadaĀ® purchases (including Air Canada VacationsĀ®) made with your card. Every other purchase earns 1 pointā€  per $1 spent.

    Travel insurance: Up to $2M travel medical coverage for 21 days for those under the age of 65 (first 4 days if you or your spouse is aged 65 or older) with additional top-up coverage availableā€ . Trip cancellation and interruptionā€ , delayed and lost baggageā€ , and flight/trip delay insuranceā€  also included.

    Extra travel features: Free checked bag when flying Air Canada (share free first checked bags with up to 8 travel companions).ā€ 

    TD Expedia travel: Be sure to book your travel with expediafortd.com to find amazing deals and offers exclusive to TD card holders

    TD credit score: As a Visa Infinite card, you'll need your credit score to be in the "very good" range to increase your likelihood of approval.

    Aeroplan estore login: Log in to the Aeroplan estore to find discounts and savings exclusive to Aeroplan membersā€”save on flights, link to partners for better redemptions, and more.

    More details:

    ā€¢ Enroll for NEXUS and once every 48 months get an application fee rebateā€ 

    ā€¢ Plus, share free first checked bags with up to 8 travel companionsā€ 

    ā€¢ You get travelā€  and car rental insuranceā€ , included with the card as well as additional VIP perks such as a free first checked bag for the cardholder and travel companions (up to eight) on the same reservation for Air Canada originated flightsā€  and more.

    This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. For Quebec residents, please click here.

    ā€ Terms and conditions apply.

Best travel credit card for a big sign-up bonus

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

3x Scene+ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland and participating Co-ops and more

2x Scene+ points for every $1 you spend on other eligible grocery stores, dining, eligible entertainment purchases and eligible daily transit options (including ride shares, buses, subways, taxis and more)

1x Scene+ point for every $1 spent on all other eligible everyday purchases

$150 Annual Fee

20.99% Purchase APR

22.99% Cash Advance APR

22.99% Balance Transfer Rate

5.00% Balance Transfer Fee

0.00% Foreign Transaction Fee

Good Recommended Credit Score

$60,000 Required Annual Personal Income

$100,000 Required Annual Household Income

Welcome Offer Ends Jul 1, 2024

Earn up to $1,300* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived

Learn more
  • Why we chose the Scotiabank PassportĀ® Visa Infinite* Card

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    The Scotiabank PassportĀ® Visa Infinite* Card comes with a great welcome offer. But this big sign-up bonus is also backed up by other value-added travel features, like complimentary Visa Airport Companion Program membership plus six complimentary lounge visits per year, no foreign transaction fees, and a well-rounded travel insurance package.

    Key features of this travel card:

    Regular earn rates: Earn 3X Scene+ā„¢ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland & Participating Co-ops, and more eligible grocers.Ā¹ Earn 2 Scene+ā„¢ points on every $1 you spend on other eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit purchases (including buses, subways, taxis and more), and earn 1 Scene+ā„¢ point on every $1 you spend on all other eligible purchases.

    Travel insurance: Full suite of travel insurance, including rare coverage for senior citizens

    Extra travel features: Visa Airport Companion Program membership + 6 free lounge entries annually

    No foreign transaction fees

    Learn more by reading our complete Scotiabank PassportĀ® Visa Infinite* Card review. You can also use our guide to compare more credit card offers and sign-up bonuses.

    Ā¹ Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank PassportĀ® Visa Infinite* Card to learn more.

Best Canadian travel credit card for lounge access

BMO Ascendā„¢ World EliteĀ®* MastercardĀ®*

5x 5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases*

3x 3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments*

1x 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else*

$150 Annual Fee

20.99% Purchase APR

23.99% Cash Advance APR

23.99% Balance Transfer Rate 21.99% for Quebec residents

2.50% Foreign Transaction Fee

Excellent Recommended Credit Score

$80,000 Required Annual Personal Income

$150,000 Required Annual Household Income

Welcome Offer Ends May 31, 2024

Get up to 90,000 points and the annual fee waived in the first year for both the primary cardholder and authorized users.*

Learn more
  • Why we chose the BMO Ascendā„¢ World EliteĀ®* MastercardĀ®*

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    Those who appreciate comfy furnishings, free Wi-Fi and good food and drink during a long flight layover might be inclined to drift into an airport loungeā€”but lounging gets pricey if you donā€™t have free access privileges. First, thereā€™s the per-entry fee, usually around $30 or so. And many airport lounges require you to pay an annual membership fee as well. Frequent travellers/loungers can avoid these ballooning costs by using the BMO Ascendā„¢ World EliteĀ®* MastercardĀ®*, which grants complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass,* with four annual complimentary passes. That feature alone is worth as much as the cardā€™s annual fee.

    Why we like the card:

    The lounge access feature has high real-world value: entrance with DragonPass will normally cost $32 USD each, and the BMO cardā€™s four annual passes can be used either for the cardholder or a guest. And DragonPass isnā€™t some obscure program with a few random hole-in-the-wall lounges at airports youā€™ll never stop in. Itā€™s one of the largest lounge networks in the world, with about 1,300 lounges worldwide.

    Lounge access aside, the card also offers a number of other features that are a godsend to travellers, like a thorough set of travel insurance* and very respectable sign-up BMO reward bonus points*.

    Key features of this travel card:

    Earn rates: 5x the points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases,* 3x the points for every $1 spent on eligible dining and entertainment purchases and recurring bill payments,* 1 point for every $1 spent everywhere else.*

    Travel Insurance: Comprehensive travel insurance*

    Airport lounge access: Complimentary membership in Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass,* with four annual complimentary passes.

    Additional benefits: Access over 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world ā€“ all at no added cost, and no added fees or roaming charges*; special cash back opportunities with participating global merchants*

    Learn more by reading our complete BMO Ascendā„¢ World EliteĀ®* MastercardĀ®*.

    *Terms and conditions apply

Best credit card for travel points in Canada with accelerated earning

American Express Cobalt

5x the points on eligible eats and drinks in Canada, including groceries and food delivery. Spend cap applies.

3x the points on eligible streaming subscriptions in Canada

2x the points on eligible ride shares, transit & gas in Canada

1x additional point on eligible hotel and car rental bookings via American Express Travel Online

1x point for every $1 in Card purchases everywhere else

$100 USD up to $100 USD hotel credit to use on amenities when charged to the room for a stay of 2 or more consecutive nights through The Hotel Collection from American Express Travel

$155.88 Annual Fee 12.99/mo

20.99% Purchase APR

21.99% Cash Advance APR

21.99% Balance Transfer Rate

2.50% Foreign Transaction Fee

Fair Recommended Credit Score

$0 Required Annual Personal Income

$0 Required Annual Household Income

Welcome Offer

Earn up to 15,000 Membership Rewards points

Learn more
  • Why we chose the American Express Cobalt card

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    Key features of this travel card:

    Earn rate: Earn 5x the points per $1 spent on eligible eats and drinks in Canada, including groceries and food delivery (think cafes, restaurants, bars, and more), earn 3x the points on eligible streaming subscriptions in Canada (e.g. Apple TV+, Crave, Disney+, Netflix, Spotify and more), earn 2x the points on eligible ride shares, transit & gas in Canada (think taxis, flights, subway, trains, etc.) and earn 1 point per dollar spent on everything else (plus 1 additional point on eligible hotel and car rental bookings via American Express Travel Online).

    Insurance: Out of province/country emergency medical insurance, travel accident, flight delay, lost luggage, hotel burglary, rental car insurance and moreā€”the Cobalt comes packed with travel insurance. It'll even pay up to $1,000 for mobile device insurance in the event of theft, loss, or accidental damage anywhere in the world (you just have to have bought your phone with the card within 2 years from date of incident).

    Learn more in our Amex Cobalt review.

    Read more: Best American Express cards in Canada

Best travel rewards credit card for no FX fees

Scotiabank Gold American ExpressĀ® Card

6x Scene+ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, Freshco, Foodland and more

5x Scene+ points for every $1 you spend on dining, food delivery and other eligible grocery stores. Includes popular food delivery and food subscriptions.

5x Scene+ points for every $1 you spend in Canada eligible entertainment purposes. Includes movies, theatre and ticket agency stores.

3x Scene+ points for every $1 CAD you spend in Canada on eligible gas and daily transit options. Includes ride shares, buses, subway, taxis and more.

3x Scene+ points for every $1 CAD you spend in Canada on eligible select streaming services.

1x Scene+ point for every $1 spent on all other eligible everyday purchases.

$120 Annual Fee $29 for each supplementary card

20.99% Purchase APR

22.99% Cash Advance APR

22.99% Balance Transfer Rate

0.00% Foreign Transaction Fee

Very Good Recommended Credit Score

Welcome Offer Ends Jul 1, 2024

Earn up to $650* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points.

Learn more
  • Why we chose the Scotiabank Gold American ExpressĀ® Card

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    The lustre of a huge sign-up bonus tends to dim down after the first year ends, and itā€™s not worth holding onto a card if it doesnā€™t have long-term value. Thatā€™s what makes the Scotiabank Gold American ExpressĀ® card stand out: Its regular, daily earn rates are so high that it gives permanent value far and above its annual fee.

    Why we like the card:

    The Scotiabank Gold American ExpressĀ® card rewards spending in the categories that the average person drops most of their money on, like 6X Scene+ā„¢ points on every $1 CAD you spend in Canada at Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland, and more eligible grocers.Ā¹ Plus, earn accelerated rates at restaurants, other eligible grocery stores, bars and food delivery in Canada (5X Scene+ points for every $1 CAD spent); and eligible gas, select streaming services, and transportation (3X Scene+ points for every $1 CAD) in Canada. There are two fine-print details that really make the cardā€™s earn rates stand out:

    ā€¢ Unlike many American Express cards, these high earn rates are valid for both stand-alone stores *and* chain stores

    ā€¢ Aside from earning huge rewards domestically, the Scotiabank Gold American ExpressĀ® card is also a big asset for spending overseas, because it waives foreign transaction fees while still earning 1X Scene+ point for every $1 on purchases made in a foreign currency.

    Key features of this travel rewards credit card:

    Earn rates: Earn 6X Scene+ā„¢ points on every $1 CAD you spend in Canada at Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland, and more eligible grocers.Ā¹ Earn 5X the Scene+ā„¢ points for every $1 CAD spent on other eligible grocery stores, restaurants, fast food, and drinking establishments (including food delivery and food subscription services), as well as on eligible entertainment purchases (movies, theatre, and ticket agencies). Plus, youā€™ll get 3X the Scene+ā„¢ points for every $1 CAD spent on eligible gas, daily transit, and eligible select streaming purchases, and 1X point per $1 spent on every other purchase.

    Travel insurance: The card includes a range of travel insurance coverage, earning it a place on our list of the best credit cards for travel insurance.

    No foreign transaction fees: The usual 2.5% fee on foreign currency purchases is waived

    Flexible point redemption policy: Book flights, hotels and a wide variety of other travel services through Scotiabank, or order through another travel platform and then apply the points youā€™ve earned after the charge shows up on your card statement. Points can also be redeemed to cover travel taxes and booking fees, which is a rarity among Canadian travel credit cards.

    Learn more by reading our complete Scotiabank Gold American ExpressĀ® card review.

    Ā¹ Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Gold American ExpressĀ® Card to learn more.

Best travel credit card for no-fee rewards

American ExpressĀ® Green Card

1 MR point Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent.

1 bonus point Earn 1 additional MR point for every dollar charged to your card with Amex Travel Online.

$0 Annual Fee No annual fee

20.99% Purchase APR

21.99% Cash Advance APR

Good Recommended Credit Score

Welcome Offer

Earn 10,000 Membership RewardsĀ® points1*

Learn more
  • Why we chose the American ExpressĀ® Green Card

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    If youā€™re looking to earn travel rewards but arenā€™t ready to commit to a credit card with an annual fee, the American ExpressĀ® Green Card is an excellent place to start. As we mentioned, this credit card has no annual fee, and you can request up to 9 supplementary cards for additional cardholders to supercharge your earnings rate. When you use this credit card, youā€™ll earn one point per dollar spent on everything. There are no complicated rewards schedules or earnings categories, making it easy to calculate your expected rewards within a year.

    You can redeem your membership points in a variety of ways, not just travel. You can use your membership points to pay for purchases on your credit card statement, book travel with American Express Travel Online through the Flexible Points Travel Program, buy merchandise, gift cards or make purchases directly through Amazon.ca.

    Why we like the card:

    On top of this card's generous welcome offer (see above), cardholders have access to American Express invites, allowing exclusive access to a wide variety of exclusive opportunities, including early and reserve ticket sales, early access cinema screenings, and priority lines and bar access at major Canadian theatres.

    Key features of this travel card:

    ā€¢ Earn rates: 1 point earned per dollar spent with no maximum earning limit.

    ā€¢ Point transfers: Change points to other popular travel reward programs, like Aeroplan and Avios, at a 1:1 transfer rate.

    ā€¢ Extra features: Zero liability, 24/7 customer service, American Express presale ticket access, reserved ticket access, Front of Line E-Updates, American Express Experiences ā€“ Cardmember Offers and Events, additional special access for all members

    ā€¢ Annual fees: $0

    Learn more in our Amex Green Card review.

Best travel card for USD cash back

Rogersā„¢ World EliteĀ® MastercardĀ®

3% Earn 3% unlimited cash back on purchases made in U.S. dollars.

1.5% Earn 1.5% unlimited cash back on everything else.

$0 Annual Fee To maintain eligibility, you must spend at least $15,000/year.

19.99% Purchase APR Increasing to 20.99% April 2024

22.99% Cash Advance APR

22.99% Balance Transfer Rate

Excellent Recommended Credit Score

$80,000 Required Annual Personal Income

$150,000 Required Annual Household Income

Welcome Offer

$25 Welcome Bonus in cash back rewards upon first card purchase within 3 months of receiving your card2

Learn more
  • Why we chose the Rogersā„¢ World EliteĀ® MastercardĀ®

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    Foreign transaction feesā€”the 2.5% penalty that credit cards charge every time you make a purchase in a non-Canadian currencyā€”are a huge waste of money for Canadian travellers. Unfortunately, most Canadian credit cards still charge this fee, and technically the Rogersā„¢ World EliteĀ® MastercardĀ® does as well. But the Rogersā„¢ World EliteĀ® MastercardĀ® more than makes up for that by giving cardholders 3% in cash back rewards on all U.S. dollar purchases. This not only makes up for the 2.5% fee, but it also results in a 0.5% cashback surplus on your U.S. travels.

    Why we like the card:

    The Rogersā„¢ World EliteĀ® MastercardĀ® is a more appealing option for frequent U.S. travellers than other no foreign transaction fee cards in Canada because most cards in that category merely waive the foreign transaction fees without giving the extra cash back on top. And aside from giving cash back on U.S. dollar transactions, the Rogersā„¢ World EliteĀ® MastercardĀ® also yields 1.5% in cash back rewards on purchases in CAD$.

    Itā€™s unusual for any credit card to offer this much cash back on all purchases, both foreign and domestic, but this is all the more impressive given that the card has no annual fee. Plus, it offers some travel insurance protections, as well as complimentary membership to Mastercard Travel Pass provided by DragonPass granting access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide at $32 USD per person per visit.

    Key features of this travel card:

    ā€¢ U.S. currency cash back: 3% cash back rewards on all U.S. dollar purchases

    ā€¢ Local cash back: 1.5% cash back rewards on all purchases in CAD$ (unlimited)

    ā€¢ Paid access to airport lounges

    ā€¢ Some travel insurance

    Learn more by reading our complete Rogersā„¢ World EliteĀ® MastercardĀ® review.

Expert tip: Look past the welcome bonus to compare the best travel credit cards

Donā€™t get caught up on just the welcome bonus when considering travel credit cards. Consider things like transfer partners and spending categories to ensure you get the most from your travel credit card. Travel credit cards can be incredibly lucrative when you pick the right one. Not all travel cards are equal and itā€™s important to consider several factors before deciding on the right one for you. Most of us get caught up in the draw of high earn rates and welcome bonuses but you will also want to look the different spending categories, the value of the rewards, whether the rewards can be transferable to other partners (and at what rates), if there are spending caps and limits on how many points you can earn, and of course any added perks and benefits such as travel insurance, lounge access, or discounts with certain brands and companies.

ā€”Hannah Logan, Money.ca credit card, saving and travel expert

Best travel credit card in Canada: Comparison

Credit card Annual fee Min. personal income required Learn more
TDĀ® AeroplanĀ® Visa Infinite* Card $139 $60,000 Apply now
BMO Ascendā„¢ World EliteĀ®* MastercardĀ® $150 (First year free) $80,000 Apply now
Rogersā„¢ World EliteĀ® MastercardĀ® $0 $80,000 Apply now
Scotiabank Gold American ExpressĀ® card $120 No minimum income requirements presented; please see Scotiabank. Apply now
Scotiabank PassportĀ® Visa Infinite* Card $150 $60,000 Apply now
American ExpressĀ® Green Card $0 N/A Apply now

ā€ Terms and conditions apply.

This offer for TDĀ® AeroplanĀ® Visa Infinite* Card is not available for residents of Quebec. Please see  Quebec residents, please click here.

How to choose the best travel credit card for you

When comparing one travel credit card to the next, be mindful of the card features that are most relevant for your particular lifestyle and spending habits. Do you regularly fly to all corners of the globe? It might be worthwhile to get a card with free airport lounge access, so you can relax during long layovers. Do you prefer to travel with your partner? You might single out cards that offer a free annual companion fare.

There are credit card features purpose-built for all lifestyles. The benefits listed below are common for many of the most competitive travel cards in Canada, and itā€™s a good idea to review them before applying for a new card.

Compare each travel credit card's sign-up bonus

A large, lump-sum bonus of miles or rewards points is a great reason to apply for a new credit rewards card.

Just keep in mind that many sign-up bonuses are contingent upon the cardholder spending a certain amount in the first few months of cardmembership. But itā€™s usually worthwhile to try to meet this minimum spending requirement, as a big sign-up bonus might be enough for a short or long-haul flight.

Some sign-up bonuses might also waive the cardā€™s first year annual fee, so those looking for value upfront should prioritize this feature.

Read: Best credit card sign-up bonuses 

Compare earn rates for travel credit cards

One of the most important features of any travel credit card, and the feature with the most longevity, is the cardā€™s earn rate. Look for a card that earns miles or rewards points rapidly, and in the categories where you most frequently spend (e.g. groceries, gas, etc.).

You might also want to keep your eye out for a card with a high ā€˜flatā€™ earn rate, meaning it earns rapidly on all spending you do, not just in specific categories.

Read: Best rewards credit cards

Consider the redemption flexibility for each travel credit card

Some travel credit cards earn miles and membership reward points quickly, but the process of redeeming those miles and rewards might be a headache.

For instance, what if you can only redeem within one rewards program, which has a limited flight selection? Or what if you can redeem rewards for the core price of a flight, but not for additional flight taxes and fees?

When selecting a credit rewards card, itā€™s important to pay attention to the rewards programā€™s flexibility when redeeming. Itā€™s equally important to understand the real-world value of points or miles depending on what youā€™re redeeming them for.

Read: The Canadian loyalty program bible

Compare annual fees

Paying an annual fee for the privilege of using a credit card can be annoying, so depending on your perspective you may want to prioritize travel credit cards with no fee, or those with perks that you know deliver equivalent or greater value to the cardā€™s annual fee.

Thereā€™s a range of great travel cards in both camps, from cards with a $0 fee that still earn some miles or rewards, to those with fees reaching $900, but that come with an enormous amount of built-in value, justifying the high annual fee.

We donā€™t feature cards that canā€™t justify their annual fee, and when issuers increase a cardā€™s annual fee without a commensurate increase of a value package, we call them out on it.

Read: Best no fee credit cards

Foreign transaction fees

This feature is appreciated most by travellers who often fly abroad or shop online at sites that donā€™t process CA$.

Foreign transaction fees are typically 2.50% of any purchase not in CA$, and they are charged by the vast majority of Canadian credit cards. Paying with one of the rare credit cards that waive these fees can save quite a bundle throughout a trip.

Read: Best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees

Compare travel credit cards' lounge access

Itā€™s no fun to suffer through uncomfortable airport benches, spotty Wi-Fi and expensive food for hours on end. Access to an airport lounge, of which most airports have at least one, will save these pains and moreā€”and are worthwhile even for a short time.

Membership programs like Priority Pass and LoungeKey offer access to worldwide lounges, over 1,000 each, and they come for free with a number of travel cards. Some cards even grant a set number of free lounge entry passes each year.

Those who spend a lot of time in airports, or who simply detest the crowds, should look for this perk.

Read: Best credit cards with lounge access

Does it come with travel insurance?

Your Canadian health insurance is useless once you travel overseasā€”and much of it wonā€™t be applicable if you even travel outside your home province. Thatā€™s why itā€™s essential to make sure you have special insurance to cover you in the event of illness or injury while travelling.

You can buy a policy individually from an insurer (see our guide to the Best Travel Insurance in Canada if you opt for that route), or you can look for a credit card that comes with a fleet of travel insurance covering overseas medical emergencies, flight cancellations, interruptions, delays, baggage, rental cars and more.

Read: Best credit cards for travel insurance

Companion fare

Travellers who like to fly with a spouse, friend or relative on trips can use a companion fare or voucher to discount the price of that companionā€™s second ticket. This might be an annual perk, giving a credit card substantial value over time.

Companion fares are usually secondary perks on upper-tier travel cards with other appealing features as well, like a good earn rate, a large introductory bonus, or insurance.

Read: Best credit cards for companion tickets

Compare processors and acceptance

A cardā€™s payment processorā€”Visa, Mastercard, or Amexā€”can influence where and how the credit card can be used.

For instance, Amex cards often feature superior travel rewards and privileges, but some merchants might accept only Visa or Mastercard. The best Amex cards are often designated as ā€˜charge cardsā€™ rather than credit cards, meaning that a cardholder must pay off the cardā€™s balance in full every month, lest they be charged a very high penalty.

We recommend readers get an Amex card for its superb earn rates and features, but to always carry a Visa or Mastercard as well to pay at merchants that donā€™t accept Amex.

Travel credit card vs. hotel credit card: Whatā€™s the difference?

A hotel credit card is a credit card that focuses on maximizing your rewards for your favourite hotel chain. This means that youā€™ll be earning points towards free hotel stays, meals offered through on-site restaurants, and complimentary late checkouts.

However, some hotel credit cards give similar perks to travel credit cards, in the way that you can transfer your points to several participating airline rewards programs. So, while travel credit cards will likely offer a better conversion rate for points to travel rewards, you still have the potential to earn many of the same travel perks with a hotel card.

Our favourite hotel credit card is The Marriott BonvoyĀ® American ExpressĀ®* Card. Not only can Marriott BonvoyĀ® reward points be redeemed at more than 7,000 hotels worldwide with no blackout dates within the Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Delta families, but you can also transfer your points to more than 40 participating airline rewards programs.

What happens to your points if you cancel a travel credit card?

Say youā€™ve spent a good amount of time accumulating your travel points over the past several years, and are now ready to cancel your travel credit cardā€”where do your rewards points go? Will you lose them or are they yours to keep and store for future use?

While the answer to this question can vary depending on the terms of your credit card and the credit card provider, your airline rewards are usually safe. Usually, your rewards are deposited in a frequent flier account, which is separate from your credit card, should it close for whatever reason.

However, itā€™s important to keep in mind that you can lose access to your points if you donā€™t use them fast enough. Some frequent-flier programs will expire your points if there isnā€™t activity in your account for a long period of time, so check the fine print that came along with your account.

FAQs: Best travel credit cards in Canada

  • Which travel credit cards are accepted worldwide?

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    The generalization that Visa and Mastercard are more widely accepted than Amex is not necessarily the case abroad like it is in Canada. American Express carries a lot of prestige and has a large network in foreign countries, and before travelling itā€™s best to check on a country-by-country basis about which card processors are most widely accepted. Merchants in some areas may inexplicably tend to support Mastercard over Visa, for example. For more, read our guide on where Amex is accepted in Canada.

  • Which travel credit cards offer the best travel insurance?

    +

    Out-of-province medical coverage is what most refer to when they say they want the best insurance that their credit card can provide. Medical coverage is measured by the amount of time it covers you while youā€™re travelling and the maximum age limit that it covers. Aside from out-of-province medical coverage, itā€™s also good to have insurance for delays and interruptions, your baggage, rental car and other potential liabilities. The best cards combine all into one, like the Desjardins OdysseyĀ® World EliteĀ® Mastercard or the Scotiabank Gold American ExpressĀ®.

  • Can I get a travel card with low/bad/fair credit?

    +

    There are travel cards in Canada accessible to applicants with credit scores in the mid-600 range or higher. These travel cards designated for those with average/fair credit scores likely wonā€™t feature the most sought-after travel perks, like lounge access or extensive travel insurance, but they should at least earn some travel rewards or miles for regular spending. Keep in mind that your credit score will also affect your credit limit. For more read our best credit card for fair credit guide.

  • Will applying for multiple travel credit cards ruin my credit score?

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    Itā€™s best to minimize the number of credit card applications you make within a period of a few months. Each credit card application review will typically require a hard credit check, and many hard credit checks in a short period could damage your credit score and suggest to a potential lender that you arenā€™t creditworthy.

American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply. BMO is not responsible for maintaining the content on this site. Please click on the Apply now link for the most up to date information.

About our author

Nate Siegel
Nate Siegel, Author

Nathan Siegel has a professional and educational passion for finance. He follows trends in the Canadian banking sector, compares competing products, and pores over fine print to make personal finance choices easier for Canadian consumers. In his spare time he loves running, swimming, and dogs of all kinds.

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